Bulwark Intelligence


In 2024 so far, Nigeria has experienced a series of severe fire breakouts throughout all regions, causing substantial damage to property, loss of lives, displacement, disruption of businesses, and economic setbacks. These incidents have emphasized the critical need for more effective fire prevention techniques, emergency response mechanisms, and public awareness campaigns.


Rapid urbanization has resulted in overcrowded residential neighbourhoods and markets, increasing the risk of fire outbreaks due to the proximity of flammable materials and limited access to firefighting equipment. An incident highlighting this cause occurred in Kano State at Yan Katako Market in Fagge Local Government Area on February 26, 2024. At least 50 stores were destroyed, and investigations revealed that foam, plywood, and other carpentry tools may have fueled the fire.

Additionally, unregulated industrial activities as a result of poor enforcement of safety laws in industries also lead to hazardous activities that can cause chemical fires and explosions. These incidents mostly occur at illegal oil exploration sites.


Electrical faults resulting from outdated electrical wiring, circuit overload, and inadequate maintenance of electrical appliances also contribute significantly to fire outbreaks in both residential and commercial structures. A fire incident suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault occurred on January 15, 2024, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area, Kano State, resulting in 7 fatalities. It is critical to emphasize the importance of regular maintenance and safety checks on building electrical systems.


Poor fire safety measures have also been a cause, as many structures lack basic fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and emergency exits, thereby worsening the severity of fires. In Lagos State, a fire outbreak at a popular 10-storey Mandilas building on Broad Street, Lagos Island Local Government Area, occurred on January 21, 2024. Due to the absence of basic firefighting equipment, the fire that began on the first floor escalated to the fourth before the arrival of the fire service. The incident displaced 6,700 traders and razed 450 shops, 30 offices, 2 hotels, and 5 restaurants.


Nigeria’s current hot weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires, which can spread swiftly and cause significant damage. On January 26 and 27, in the Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, wildfires erupted at secondary schools due to their proximity to bushes.


These incidents underscore the urgent need for comprehensive fire prevention strategies and improved emergency response mechanisms across the country. While efforts are underway to address some of the underlying issues, such as updating building codes and investing in firefighting infrastructure, more concerted action is required to tackle this growing crisis effectively.

Addressing the underlying causes of fire outbreaks in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach involving government agencies, corporate sector entities, and civil society organizations. Key interventions include the investment in Infrastructure by prioritizing the upgrade of electricity grids, firefighting equipment, and emergency response systems to increase preparation and resilience, public awareness campaigns to inform individuals about fire safety measures, such as correct use of electrical equipment, safe cooking methods, and evacuation protocols, empowering local communities to prevent fires and respond efficiently in emergencies through training programs and community-based initiatives, regulatory enforcement measures to ensure compliance with building codes, fire safety standards, and industrial rules and encouraging research and development activities to explore innovative technologies and tactics for fire detection, prevention, and suppression.


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